BOOTLEGGER CUSTOM PICKUPS
We work with top pickup builders to achieve the best tonal match for all our stringed instruments. Bootlegger pickups are matched for each position and balanced for volume and tone selection. Our favorite player comments are, “I thought I would need to change out your pickups, until I heard them”.
5 PIECE ROASTED MAPLE NECK
Roasted Maple is heat treated at over 300° F to remove sugars, moisture, and impurities. This maple is lighter, more stable, and has a beautiful natural color. Combined with our Roasted Swamp Ash body wings, the result is a neck that requires less adjustment, with a beautiful natural vintage look.
SWAMP ASH BODY WINGS
Our Ash is a medium-light weight wood, often found in expensive boutique instruments, We love it for its striking grain, tonal qualities and its low density or weight.
NECK THROUGH CONSTRUCTION
The combination of our 5 piece Maple neck and Swamp Ash body wings provide a solid built instrument. Great tone, sustain and looks. It can take a beating or give one.
DUAL ACTION TRUSS ROD
Our dual action rod adjusts in both directions, allowing back bow or forward bow. This assures correct adjustment range is possible regardless of string tension, extreme climate conditions, or the effects of long term aging.
Our monorail bridge, tuners have a housing made of aircraft grade aluminum that makes them extra-light. The Bootlegger monorail bridge system reduces the sympathetic vibration that can cause unwanted ringing from other strings. Our headless instruments have a more defined and enhanced tone with the Bootlegger Monorail System.
CUSTOM ALUMINUM SPEED KNOBS
Our aluminum speed knobs feature a lower profile which is less likely to be accidentally hit by the player’s hand.
We use Graphite Synthetic Nuts. Graphite produces more harmonics in the mid and upper range of the guitars, providing the harmonically rich tone, without the inconsistency found in ivory, bone or other natural materials.
Our proprietary jack plate features four mounting screws, instead of two. The extra screws prevent the plate from tearing out of the body.
Beautiful high polished Brazilian cherry Jatoba fingerboard. jatoba (aka Brazilian cherry) is about double rosewood’s janka hardness number, about four times that of maple. Jatoba produces a full sound–rich in low and mids, with clarity in the top end. Our Matte Spade features a Maple fingerboard.
Bootlegger Guitar Ace 4 & 5 String Bass Includes Custom Case.
We are sold out all Ace 5 strings and Ace Red 4 strings. Currently on back order, reserve your firstname.lastname@example.org.
Since the 80’s creative builders like Steinberger have challenged the standard by producing high quality guitars without heads. This unconventional, but savvy design places all of the hardware in one location.
Having everything in one place eliminates the need for a head, which is a boon for your open notes and intonation in general. Without that extra wood and hardware at the end of the neck, balance of the guitar shifts to the body, alleviating the strain on your strap shoulder. Lighter, full scale, compact and works great as a travel bass.
Our Spade is such a success bass playing friends demanded a bass version. Here it is the headless Ace 4 and 5 string guitars. Yes bass players like “Tiny” get what they demand.
Ace On The Road
I was looking for an affordable and portable long scale bass to use on this seasons summer fly out gig schedule and ran across Bootlegger guitars while surfing Reverb.
They looked interesting and at the price, definitely had my interest.
The questions remained, “can they be any good?” I have had previous experience with the steinberger spirit and was disappointed, (to say the least)but could these be any better? Would the bootlegger product be good enough to use as a working, professional instrument and not a toy?
I had a few questions and decided to call them directly. Bootlegger is a small company and when you call you get Chuck, the owner on the phone. He was happy to take time and answer all my questions (even the dumb ones) and I made the decision to purchase a four string ACE bass in the latest red finish.
The bass arrived from California promptly and well packed . When I unboxed it I was pleasantly surprised at the quality of the build.
The bass is built in S.Korea and IMO is comparable in build quality to brands like Schecter, Reverend, ESP LTD (all companies that use Korean factories)
The bass is finished in a high gloss poly that is applied perfectly smooth and doesn’t feel draggy or sticky
The bass is a five piece maple neck through with a Jatoba fingerboard with 24 surprisingly nicely dressed, level and polished frets.
Another nice touch is the dual action truss Rod .
The nut width is 1.5” with the nut material being advertised as graphite.
The neck profile is what I would describe as a “slightly chunky” jazz bass. If you like a jazz neck you’ll get along with this one just fine.
The basses are advertised as weighing 7.8 lbs. when I put mine on a hanging scale it was exactly 7.83 lbs. that’s pretty consistent.
The “body”, made from ash, is a small asymmetric design which is shaped on the bottom to rest comfortably on your leg. No need for a folding leg rest. It works quite well. It puts the bass in an almost “ classical guitar” playing position . Pretty thoughtful design.
The hardware is made in Korea and consists of four individual “monorail” bridges with tuning knobs on the end. They work very smooth, not notchy and stiff like the ones found on the steinberger spirits. The saddles are adjustable for height but not spacing.
At the other end of the neck there’s a string capture mechanism involving four separate grub screws which are tightened with a hex key to lock down the string before trimming.
Double ball strings are not used. Just standard bass strings.
I needed to be careful not to over tighten the screws. If you torque them down too much you will break the outer wrap and the string will fail, so take it easy there.
The electronics are passive std. jazz bass configuration V/V/T and the pickups are 3.5” Humbucking soap bar and seem to be the same size as EMG soap bars.
The pickups are advertised as “Booheung” humbuckers. Who? After a little research I discovered that Booheung is a Korean OEM manufacturer, not a brand.
I looked up some of their customers and it seems that they sell a lot of stuff to Fender and Gibson. Interesting.
The pickups are dead quiet and sound very, very good. No need to upgrade here.
One complaint is that the neck pickup IMO is positioned too close to the fingerboard, making slap style a bit uncomfortable. Bootlegger is aware of this and have already repositioned the pickup on their new five string model.
The bass came set up decently from the factory and matched all the advertised specs for string action (5/64….std fender spec)
The first fret action was too high though. I needed to get out my files and deepen the slots to achieve 18 thousandths at the first fret. It made a big improvement.
Overall, the bass plays and sounds extremely good and punches well above its price point.
Bootlegger offers a strap extender bar licensed by Warwick. It’s the one designed for the Nobby Meidel bass. It’s an absolute necessity if you want to play standing.
The reach without the strap extender makes playing in First position a literal pain.
With the strap bar installed the geometry is similar to a std. Fender bass. Much more comfortable.
Another excellent feature is the fitted hardshell case. Yes! They give you a case! And it’s a pretty darn nice one too. I hear a leather bound tool kit is in the works also.
They also offer a gigbag that, while it does the job, doesn’t blow my skirt up. I purchased a ProTec guitar bag for better protection while flying.
I hope to make a demo video but my schedule is so damn tight, I don’t know when I’ll have the time. Thankfully @LowEndLobster has done an excellent video which Is on YouTube.
To sum up…
This is NOT a low quality instrument .
This bass specs out very well and is priced so affordable that I don’t know how they do it.
It’s an odd beast that can be viewed as a bit of a niche instrument but really doesn’t have to be.
It’s a full scale, good sounding, good playing, well built bass that does everything a bass should do.
Other than a few minor personal quibbles, there isn’t much to dislike about the Bootlegger Ace Bass.
Les Haley Land Sharks
Coming Later This Year 4 and 5 String Sets